It is such a comforting sound to hear a strange voice in a foreign language tell you something completely intelligible. Well, not exactly. I sojourned to Paris, France with my parents, my brother, and my aunt during the summer of 2008, and it is an experience I will never forget. I have been to other countries, such as Switzerland, Germany, and Canada, but France was another country with a foreign language and different rules. On our first day I got stuck in a small booth in their subway station because I did not know you had to keep your ticket with you as you exit. Thankfully, I managed to extract myself without injury, but I learned my lesson. I couldn’t understand a drop of what anyone was saying, but I could tell someone that I did not speak French, thank someone, and greet someone.
However, we did not go to Paris to talk; we went to enjoy the sights, such as the unforgettable Eiffel Tower (http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/), where we climbed to the second floor (because I was and still am afraid of heights) and gazed down at the entire city of Paris in awe. Our hotel was only a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower, and we could see it as soon as we walked outside. We were fortunate enough to be in Paris around the French Independence Day, July 14th, and on the last night we were there, the Eiffel Tower lit up in scores of beautiful colors and pulsing for hours. It was a sight I, then perched on my father’s shoulders, will never forget. We of course visited the Louvre and got a close up of the famous Mona Lisa (http://www.louvre.fr/llv/commun/home.jsp?bmLocale=en), and admired the Louvre Pyramid as we lay by the fountains and took in some sun. We trekked down the famous avenue of Paris: Champs-ElysÃ©es, dining in a small, nearby cafÃ© and checking out some shops. We visited the Notre Dame cathedral (http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/), which will always remind me of the Disney movie: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. We traveled with the subway to return home that day, but I did not get trapped anywhere that time. My dad and I, being early risers, bought some fruits and souvenirs from a local flea market before we took a boat tour down the Seine River to cool off from the relatively hot weather. We enjoyed famous French cuisines (or I should say desserts), such as chocolate covered crepes, and personal favorites, like pizza (I think, no matter where you are in the world, you can always find a reputable pizza place with delicious pizza that makes you feel right at home).
All in all, the summer of 2008 was one of the best because of this journey to an new, undiscovered land. Not only did I learn more French phrases (I had learned to ask questions like, Do you speak English?), but a desire to see and experience other countries and their cultures was awoken in me. I wanted to travel to China, Australia, India, Russia, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Chile, and every other country that could offer me rich experience and an unforgettable vacation. Maybe in the following years I will travel to a new country every summer, so I can broaden my horizon and open doors in areas I never even knew existed.
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